This was the focus of a discussion Sarah Whalen and I had yesterday. Whalen is a fellow attorney, an exceptional columnist-contributor for Bayoubuzz. She has an articulate mind, knowledgable about an array of subjects and a worthy "debate" opponent on the issues.
Whalen is leaning Trump. I certainly am not.
By design, Whalen and I talked about Trump and immigration, via online chat. This meant, we both presented our opinions, and respond to one another by typing within a chat room. Unlike a TV or radio interview, this system is not a perfect method to talk emotionally about current events, or any topic, for that matter. A couple of times, our comments were not exactly responsive to the remarks made immediately before. Still, this was an excellent experiment and I think you will agree from the discussion, that the personage of Donald Trump, his ideas and the way he presents them, provokes thought and testy discussions--even when accomplished in an environment of a cozy and friendly chat.
Here is the chat transcript. Please comment below.
SABLUDOWSKY: So, for background purpose, why do you think Trump has become such a impact political player? Because of his immigration issues?
WHALEN: Trump has become such an impact player because he gives voice to issues that until now people have been reluctant to talk about because they fear being accused of racism and worse.
SABLUDOWSKY: Ok. but in the area of immigration, in particular, people have been talking about that subject now for years, has been a major issue in the GOP party, he didn't just discover immigration in America
WHALEN: He may be wrong on some issues, or present others bombastically and in a direct way that upsets people, but his speaking "off the cuff" is just giving voice to how many people think-- "off the cuff." His voice resonates very powerfully with a group of voters who frankly feel unheard, disenfranchised, and threatened.
SABLUDOWSKY: I understand. But, on the issue of immigration, Cruz had been discussing it for a while and others saying it is a major national issue. It didn't just suddenly appear, but why is it that he makes it sound like it was a non-issue, until his presence?
WHALEN: Well, there's talking about it and talking about it. Trump comes out and says, "Immigration is going on unchecked, and we've had terrible incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing, and we need to halt all immigration." Or he talks about building a wall between the United States and Mexico to stop the unrestricted flow of illegals from Mexico and Central America, and some people respond as though he is talking about creating a fascist state. And they don't hesitate to use the word "Fascist" and compare Trump to Hitler. When you say "people have been talking about that subject now for years," well, that is true, but what people see is that to do something like sending illegals back will be viewed as repressive and negative. So many people avoid talking about it, but they still have strong feelings about it. Trump's candidacy has given people the courage to voice their feelings and demand changes and action.
A politician saying that he recognizes the issue is fine, but the question is, who has the power to provoke these changes? Who has the power to start investigating? The average voter is tired of people who are already in Washington having discussions but not doing anything. And the problem has become worse. Illegal immigration is creating real problems that greatly outweigh the "benefits" we are always being told come with illegals. Cheap labor, of course, is a big "benefit" supposedly, but it may be less of an economic benefit when it's balanced against the cost of crime committed by illegals, and other ways they impact the system. Like driving without car registration or insurance. Or having or causing an accident at a workplace. Or just not being able to identify themselves for any number of reasons.
SABLUDOWSKY: Well, I disagree with you here on many fronts, obviously...but, let us take his initial foray into the issue when he entered the campaign...some of us knew he was a fringe guy on issues such as birther, but we, speaking for myself, at least, wanted to not opine until I received facts...so his first major statement was his campaign speech about immigration ...
why do you think that his comments in that speech after descending the escalator, was not worrisome to Mexicans, Hispanics and others who felt it was inflammatory, I sure did.
You think NBC just likes pulling the plug on a major investment and program, Miss USA?
WHALEN: What exactly are you referring to, in terms of what Trump said? I remember that he was on the escalator, but....is this about the claim that Trump said many illegal Mexicans are illegal immigrants being rapists and murderers?
SABLUDOWSKY: sorry, yes
WHALEN: I might add that I don't see why NBC would retaliate by pulling the Miss USA pageant. What does that have to do with anything? Why not pull Dora the Explorer, by the same logic? This kind of retaliation is silly and won't solve the problem.
SABLUDOWSKY: Their advertisers felt it was offensive...they felt pressure..I assume NBC felt it outrageous in terms of what was said, the actual words that were used
WHALEN: What was offensive? That Trump, once again, rather bombastically made a statement about illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America committing crimes like rape and murder? There is a great deal of evidence that Trump's statement is fundamentally true, although said in an undiplomatic manner. Check this out: http://www.americanthinker.
But most likely, an illegal planning to commit a crime will just rob you, or rob your home. This is the most frequent crime associated with illegal immigrants in the U.S..
SABLUDOWSKY: ok..well, you say that he "rather bombastically made a statement about illegal aliens....although said in an undiplomatic manner"--assuming the truth that they commit more crimes than we do here...just assuming it to be true, you think bombastic and undiplomatic is acceptable, if the result is that it immediately is interpreted by a large proportion of Americans
[and people from around the south and Central Americas, and many around the world, as being mean spirited, ugly and yes, racist?
WHALEN: Yes. Trump is a pushy New Yorker. They are a different breed of businessman. Things in NYC happen quickly, and my experience with living there is that New Yorkers speak more roughly than people in the South or Midwest. And they don't shy away from argument. Trump throws his words out because he WANTS them to resonate. He wants to have the debate. He is not fearful of where it will go. In a way (and I am not saying that Trump consciously thinks this), Trump's manner and demeanor is really testing the fundamentals of the American democractic system. Why NOT talk about illegal immigrants? Why NOT talk about restricting even legal immigration into the U.S. if people who profess hatred for American values are coming here? Why NOT try to at least get a grip on a system that seems to not be working very well?
SABLUDOWSKY: Well, why trust a guy to be the most important representative of the people of this country if he is going to offend so many people by his brash talk? I am not necessarily ignoring the content of what is being said, the messenger has a ying and a yang and his yang is way out of whack in comparison to his ying...assuming i have that arranged correctly, (said jokingly)
WHALEN: I think that people from everywhere who are in American, regardless of where they come from, should either participate in the debate, or not, but if not, they have no grounds to criticize those who do participate. And if participation means that some people's feelings get hurt, well, this again is the price of living in a free society, or one that is trying to be free. Every state has a right to protect itself, secure its own borders, and determine who will receive citizenship. There is a fundamental right to be a citizen of SOME country, but not to switch it all around. I think that there is a core of Americans who are genuinely concerned about how quickly the demographics of American population are changing. This is especially true here, in Louisiana, in Kenner, where we have the largest population of Honduran nationals in the world-- outside of Honduras itself. Not all, but many of the Honduran community are here illegally, and it definitely has a social effect. A businessman who owns a donut shop may be happy if he has a cheap Honduran laborer, but in the long run, that illegal Honduran laborer is fundamentally unaccountable for their actions, and at the same time, he can make a lot of demands for social services. The cost of this will far outweigh any incidental benefit anyone gets from having a cheaper donut.
SABLUDOWSKY: Let me just make sure that we understand one another..I am not suggesting in any way that this country allows the free flow of immigrants into the country, and the fact that many are coming into the country illegally, that is surely an issue. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. And it has been addressed to the extent maybe not as bombastically, but certainly legislatively. It's not just a question of.. Political correctness or people's feelings getting hurt, it is the words that are being said and how they are being said that make him a horrible leader for this country, quite frankly. America does not live as an island. For example, here is what he said in his very first statement, " It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards an.."
WHALEN: Why trust anyone? You trust a person whose voice resonates with your own voice. You trust a person because you feel or sense an identification with them, or at least, an identification of interests. This is why some voters have instinctively responded positively to Trump, and others are infuriated with him. But what I find interesting is that, in America, for decades now, the debate has been quashed, and now it is suddenly burst wide open. And it isn't just Trump. Bernie Sanders' candidacy as well as his popularity and determination are remarkable political developments. I personally don't ascribe to socialism, but the fact that people suddenly feel free to talk about it in a mainstream manner, rather than as part of a fringe political party or candidate, is a new development in American politics. It is a real expression of freedom and democracy just to have the debate. The problem with socialism is that it used to consider itself revolutionary and seek entrenchment, and it offers a lot less choice than traditional democracy, but people are entitled to discuss it without fear. To me, that is the essence of America.
SABLUDOWSKY: (continuing from Trump’s announcement address) “and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.
It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.
WHALEN I completely agree with you. This is Trump's biggest card-- many people want the United States to slow down legal immigration and stop illegal immigration. But the system in place doesn't seem to work very well. Immigration is really a federal issue, and the federal government is slow to act. And it's expensive to do things the "federal" way. In any illegal immigration. Most American voters don't know about the real problems with border states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. There are these border areas called "colonias" that are just full of horrible crime and terrible poverty. Some inhabitants are citizens because they have been born in the colonias, but they live in a nether region where there is hardly electricity let alone law enforcement. None of this benefits the average voting American, and it has high social costs. Why have the colonias? So a handful of already wealthy developers can get richer? So the Democrats have more voters? https://en.wikipedia.org/
SABLUDOWSKY: Thanks, not really sure what you agree with me about, however, I don't think anybody is saying that illegal immigration is not an issue.. For years we have been saying that. But the way he has presented has completely perverted the conversation into one of hate, distrust and provocation...So let's see where we agreed, because I do agree that Houston has a problem...So where do you completely agree with me?
WHALEN: Saying it is an issue is not the same as doing something about it. Trump says, hey, are illegal Mexicans coming in? I will build a wall to keep them out, and I will make Mexico pay for it. This is a response that at least suggests a solution. D.C. politicans are known for not solving anything. Does the idea of a wall going up on the border bother people? Well, newsflash! A good part of our borders are already walled off. Walls go back to ancient Mesopatamia. Important cities were walled and gated and controlled long before CCTV. Europe may have decided to "go borderless," but NAFTA never went as far as the EU.
SABLUDOWSKY: But I'm not quite sure where you agree with me, about what? I'm trying to understand what it is that you said
WHALEN Where do I agree with you? That yes, immigration is a problem and D.C. has some offices that are charged with studying it. Where we seem to disagree is where I say that Trump's bombastic remarks have the effect of opening a genuine debate among regular people-- not just politicians. Where we disagree is on your concern for the negative feelings that Trump's remarks provoke. People have a right to have the debate. I disagree, though, that the debate itself is proof of anyone's alleged racism or hatred for others. I think that having the debate shows that Trump is a truly American candidate-- not a Hitler. Trump is a populist along the lines of Andrew Jackson, Huey Long, and the like. Having the debate with Trump and all who want to engage in talking about the issues is, to me, a sign that American has not yet lost its great national vitality. We disagree because Trump does not frighten me, but he frightens you.
And I want to add that I've held my nose and voted for Democrats before. Haha, just kidding. Kidding about holding my nose. Or...am I?
Let me be more clear: I believe in the debate, the exchange of ideas, the examination of data. I am genuinely sorry if this debate angers anyone, or makes someone feel badly, or has some kind of commercial effect on the television industry that is negative. But the right to debate is essential to American democracy. If "immigrants" feel angered or slighted, or think that this debate is wrong, then I would encourage them to learn more about how the United States was formed. They are always free to return to their home countries, or to places where a lack of vital debate is common. It's like Animal Farm.
SABLUDOWSKY: You make it seem as if people are preventing others from having the debate unless they do it like Trump. You make it seem as if people won't listen unless the words are offensive and provocative. That he has done just simply from the words that he used in his initial campaign statement. He said that Mexico was sending these people. First is Mexico even sending anybody or are they coming on their own? Then, he said--they're bringing in drugs, crime, the rapists and some I assume are good people...Do you understand why many people feel that that kind of talking that type of rhetoric does more damage to the good relationships with people than it is doing by provoking those who are already angry and looking for a leader to give them the freedom to say what they want to say?
WHALEN: Well first off, Trump is absolutely correct when he says "Mexico sends these people." The Mexican government's official position since the late 1970s has been that it needs to send over its nationals to the U.S. in order to bolster its own economic development. It is called "the population safety valve" and it is well known by sociologists. The idea is that excess population from Mexico moves north to the U.S.. This population sends money BACK to Mexico to pay for relatives, and because they are illegal immigrants, they do not pay any taxes to the U.S.. Mexico has always had huge bursts of overpopulation in its demographics, as measured even from colonial times. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/
SABLUDOWSKY: The point I'm making is that they are not sending people in buses, airplanes, not given in a “”get out of jail card and free meals, these people are coming on their own and many of coming out of political need. I'm not discounting what you're saying here...
WHALEN: Do I understand that people fear that Trump's kind of talking will do more damage to people? I understand the point, but this is America. People may talk the way they talk. It's one thing to talk directly, and it’s another thing for someone to say you are lying, or got your facts wrong. But in fact, many of Trump's facts appear to be correct. Mexico does send us many of its criminals. Mexico does very little to police its side of the border, and criminals are allowed to freely exit, seeking opportunity as well as the anonymity needed to carry out many of their crimes, like drug dealing and importation.
SABLUDOWSKY: It seems to me that what he's doing is saying that only if you pull down your pants will people even notice, only if you are provocative and bombastic that people will even care. This is frightening. We depend upon people in this world and they depend upon us. Can we really trust the person who doesn't have the self-control to say what people will agree upon, without insulting? To me, the mark of a real leader is someone who can lead people to act because of the merits of the words and their ideas, not because of the shrillness of their voice.
WHALEN: Out of political need? Well, many illegals when caught claim asylum. And I would be the first to agree that the political and economic situations in Honduras and elsewhere are bad. But part of being a citizen is to make things better, and you can't do that, really, if you live elsewhere. Americans can urge their politicians to try to use diplomacy to make things better in foreign countries. But fundamentally, these are national changes that persons of those nations need to seek by themselves and for themselves. Nothing else really seems to work. Not trade, and not military intervention. True changes must always come from within.
WHALEN: Speaking the truth, or one's own truth, is frightening if one is on the receiving end. Trump's not pulling down his pants to get our attention. We've just been asleep so long that his rhetoric shocks us into waking up. Trump is talking about real facts and real issues. What's going on is more like this, more like The Matrix. Do you want to take the blue pill, and go back to sleep? Or do you dare to take the red pill, and wake up? Trump isn't shrill. He's mocking. He's wry. He's daunting. He's saying, "Oh, Americans, you are smarter than THIS! Wake up!" He doesn't claim that Hillary killed Vince Foster! Instead, he says, Americans, you are smart! Go look it up and form and opinion! And let me know!" That is pretty gutsy. And that is a very New York state of mind. Can we trust Trump? Sure-- as much as you might trust anyone., and never blindly. The main thing is to trust the American system the way it was designed to be. It had a place for the political elite, and it even had a place for Sam Adams's unruly mob. And as for electing people on the basis of their ideas, well, that makes me think of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and even Richard Nixon., who were all men with ideas. And Ronald Reagan didn't start out that way, but he certainly became the true embodiment of that notion of the presidency. And in his day, before he became a kind of martyred saint of conservativism, Reagan was often reviled and considered exceptionally shrill.
SABLUDOWSKY: Trust is talking real facts? Boy, we have a difference here, for sure. He has broken just about all politifact records for Pinocchio’s or “liar, liar, pants on fire” and other fact checkers.... http://www.politifact.com/
WHALEN: Reagan was even considered goofy. Remember his debate on the Panama Canal? It went something like: "America built it, American paid for it...We OWN that Canal!" And still, the U.S. Congress voted to give it back to Panama, and then Panama sold it to Japan. Yes, Japan. I think that China may even own it now. http://themengesproject.
SABLUDOWSKY: His campaign has right wing haters making robo calls? Because he is saying what they have been wanting to say in the exact way he has been saying it. Many of us think this if frightening. And couple with his bombastic statements that are non-factual, this is exactly why people relate him to Hitler. Many people, including myself, believe the gates are open and the right wing who has always been on the fringe of society has broken through and is at the wheel. So, even if his ideas are legit for the reasons that are legit, his words cannot be written off as a brash New Yorker...they are being perceived as being outrageous in the way he is saying it and the words he is using.
WHALEN: [ Trump appears to speak largely off-the-cuff and likes to shock. But the Washington Post and other fact checkers are often wrong on what Trump has said or claims. Trump's allegations on immigration have a lot of basis in fact. Illegal immigrants commit a disproportionately high number of violent crimes and robberies. Trump MAY (and only MAY) be "off" on rape statistics because this is a very under-reported crime. But the highest illegal immigrant-committed-crimes are murders and assaults. Robberies are not usually violent, but the numbers committed by illegal aliens are exceptionally high. That is a lot for people who are illegally resident in the country to begin with. And if they are caught and arrested, they are sometimes simply released because they are illegal, and the system is designed NOT to hold them. I don't know about "right wing haters making robo calls." Is Trump approving of this? Do they work for Trump? Again, we live in a democracry and freedom of speech is a significant element of our democracy. You can always hang up the phone if you don't like any caller. I myself have not heard of the robo calls, and have not received one. What is similar to the times in which Hitler emerged and found popularity is that both legal and illegal immigration is on the rise. Large shifts in population are occurring all over the world. In Hitler's time, it was caused by the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the rise of communism in Europe. Facsims emerged as a response to social shifts not just in Germany, but in Spain, Italy and France, and these transferred over to places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and all over as immigrants from Spain, Italy, France and (to a much smaller extent) Germany came with their particular political ideas. We are experiencing a similar shift right now.
WHALEN [4:39 PM] I went online to see what you might be referring to. Are you talking about this?https://www.
SABLUDOWSKY: Yes, we live in a democracy and freedom of speech is desired, but, it has been widely reported that David Duke said that Whites would be traitorous if they did not support Donald Trump and it has been widely reported that these hate groups have been making these Robo calls. Yes, we are living in times when for many reasons, people are all looking for safer and more desirous nations to raise families and this does upset many people and particularly those who are fearful of others of different countries, ethnicities and religions. So yes, there are many winds that are similar in direction and force, but in my opinion what we’re saying again, is the right-wing taking over and being led by a personality that is larger-than-life. He is giving them the approval to come out of the dark and be whom they want to be and say things they want to say because the Republican presidential candidate is saying it so all is okay. It is now safe to be obnoxious, hateful and ethnocentric. and that link is only one that i have seen that was reported..
WHALEN: Okay. So who cares what David Duke says or doesn't say? David Duke certainly won't be voting for Hillary Clinton, so the fact that he's found a candidate whose voice appeals to him really just means nothing. It certainly does NOT mean that Trump will follow David Duke, or adopt his platform! But Duke has the same freedom of speech rights that all people in America have, including illegal immigrants. Freedom of speech is a right that transcends nationality. But the fact that David Duke "likes" Trump doesn't alarm me. Very few New Yorkers are right wingers. The debate on immigration may have some participants we don't personally admire or even like. But all should be invited to speak out. It should always be "safe" to be "obnoxious, hateful and ethnocentric" in terms of having a right to one's opinion. What would it being "unsafe" mean? That we are too fearful to say anything at all? Should we be punished for mere words? I think the true power of the political debate, openly and freely held, is that people get a chance to correct and BE CORRECTED, and that goes for everyone. People grow and may actually change their views over time, once they have a chance to air them. I think that genuine racists do not want to have their views see the light of day, to be examined and scrutinized in public. Their power lies in the secrecy of their process. Having the debate empowers everyone, and gives those who you think are "wrong" a chance to change. Without it, there is only perpetual ignorance.
SABLUDOWSKY: Well, first, thank you for joining me in this online chat discussion..
WHALEN: That was my final statement....for now! Thank you, Steve. I really appreciate your time. It is always great to chat with you!
SABLUDOWSKY I know that we talked a lot about various issues and it appears to me that one of problems is that we have in terms of finding solutions to the problems...Is getting over the language being used that is for better or worse tainting the entire discussion..
Nonetheless, I join with you with the opportunity to hear other people express themselves and don't want to punish anybody for their speech, but at the same time, it is fair to turn off what a speaker is saying when you not only have issues with the content but in the very way that it is being expressed. Hope that we can discuss in the short future the solutions rather than the noise, but unfortunately, that has been the issue at hand. Take care..